Playing With Dead Things Is a Very #BadDad Thing To Do



Note: The article contains pictures of animal remains. If you are not comfortable with that, please do not read on.

All the squeamish folks gone? Great, let’s carry on then…

Growing up, I used to love taking long hikes in the woods behind my grandparents’ house. These days my grandparents are no longer with us, but the house still is. We went up last month, and one of the first things on our to do list was to take a hike. So off we went, me, my four year-old son and my fourteen year-old daughter.

Sadly, many of the areas where I used to hike are now too densely forested or dangerous to access. My big hope was to show my daughter a deer trail or two, as they always run up the property. Instead, we found this:

Aww, it was a little fellah.
“Hey, watch where you’re walking!”

Amusing as my son’s gasp of “Eek, a skeleton!” was (and yes, he actually said the word “Eek”), far better was my daughter’s reaction: a desire to know more. We began searching the wooded area, carefully. We then located more remains.

Confession: I may have not been as mellow if I had found this first.
Confession: I may have not been as mellow if I had found this first.
That's one way to shut him up, I guess.
That’s one way to shut him up, I guess.

My daughter has wanted to be a doctor since she was six, so this was fascinating to her. We identified what bones we could (including another segment of ribs and a leg or two), shared theories about what killed it (judging from the scattering of the remains in relative proximity and the area, smart money is on a small wolf pack), and how old it likely was (judging from the antlers, not very). We also established that no, we will not be going hiking in the woods at night any time soon.

So yes, I let my daughter examine dead things (we did not touch it directly). And now I am searching for how to sterilize bones so that she can take some segments home next time we go up (the trick, of course, is Googling that without ending up on a watch list). If that’s not being a #BadDad, I’m not sure what is.

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4 thoughts on “Playing With Dead Things Is a Very #BadDad Thing To Do

  1. It’s not being a #BadDad. It’s letting me explore stuff that i’m interested in!
    (You should have asked me for the pictures, they didn’t come out so well on your phone)

  2. My buddy Matt sent me your way, knowing that I’ve processed some bones on my own.

    If you’re finding bones without any meat on them, just throw on some latex/rubber gloves, and put their bones in a plastic bag. To clean them, I usually put them in a hydrogen peroxide bath for a 2-3 days, switching the peroxide out every day. Plastic containers/tupperware type stuff work just fine. Don’t lock the cover down, and keep it outside if possible.

    After the peroxide bath, just let them dry for a day or two in the sun. They should be fine to handle without gloves at that point. There are plenty of ways to clean bones, but that’s how I’ve done it. It’s actually a pretty simple process!

    Now, if it’s a whole skull, that’s a slightly different story, because you need to check inside for brains. You can look inside through the base of the skull, where it would have met the spine. If there’s any brain matter, you can get it out once you’ve soaked it in peroxide that first day, using a stiff wire (wire hangers work great for bigger skulls), and some water. Just keep swishing the wire around inside the skull, and flushing it out with water, until nothing comes out.

    Hopefully I’ve been of some help!

  3. Jordan N-G is on point with his advice! Hydrogen peroxide is best because it doesn’t damage the bones. Bleach (which can also be used) will damage the bones and cause them to break down over time.

    You are being the absolute BEST!! My dad was a champ when we went on a fishing trip recently and I asked our guide to give me the fish head of a barracuda I caught to sterilize and keep (he was keeping the fish to eat with his family anyway)

    Keep being awesome 🙂

  4. My family (parents and 3 girls) used to go on trips when we were younger. On a trip to Idaho (where my dad grew up) we found a jaw bone from a cow. We thought it was so cool and brought it home where we used to freak out all our friends. We still had it years later except a squirrel in the back yard kept eating it (who knew), so I don’t think its there anymore.

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